Thought I’d catch your attention with that line from “Saturday’s Warrior,” the bane (or bastion, if you don’t know what you’re talking about) of Mormon doctrine.* There was an interesting article in NYT about how children can negatively impact marriages. So, what’s the real scoop on these tiny little homewreckers? Read on . . .
- Kids cement marital happiness. Definitely not always true. (see below)
- Empty nesters feel bereft and abandoned. You wish! Now that you’re gone, they can get down to doing all the stuff they’ve been putting off for 20 years: travelling, reading, rock climbing, key parties, whatever.
- There was more quality family time back in the “good old days.” Not at all. Studies show that parents spend much more time with kids than they used to spend back when housework took over twice as long. Even in homes where both parents work, kids often get more quality time with BOTH parents than those of previous generations. Debunked!
- Having kids when you either don’t want them or are ambivalent about them can be disastrous for a marriage. Do people succumb to pressure to have kids when they don’t want them?
- Having kids to solidify a rocky marriage (seriously, do people still do this?) is likely to backfire (to which I say “duh!”). Do people honestly think it will all work out if they just have kids?
- Slipping into “traditional” roles as anything other than a matter of choice leads to resentment from both spouses and rocky marriages. Do people get sucked into traditional roles against their choice?
- Spending too much time helicoptering over your kids and not enough time together as a couple or in adults-only time weakens marriages. Are we so focused on kids that we forget adult time?
It’s no secret the church advocates traditional roles, is pro-procreation (when will the earth be plenished already?), and encourages family time. Do Mormon couples experience these 4 pitfalls more frequently as a result, about the same, or less than others? Are these issues we should be concerned about? Do you know people for whom these issues have cause major marital strife? If there is pressure that causes people to act outside their best interests, from whence does that pressure come, and how should it be dealt with. My view is there are 3 kinds of pressure:
- External. This is pressure from society, church, or family (other than spouse) to do what they want you to do or think is best for you. It is best taken with a grain of salt if it conflicts with either of the next two.
- Intra-Marriage. This is pressure from your spouse to do what s/he desires OR possibly what s/he thinks is best for you. This is why people need to go into a marriage with their eyes wide open and full disclosure on things like kids & careers. But you have to do what you both can to accomodate and understand one another and arrive at a common place.
- Internal. These are your feelings and desires and even your expectations of yourself and others. It could be biological clock stuff, perfectionism, or your life’s goals and dreams. You have to be true to yourself and to learn to love yourself and others, even when your desires may differ. This is stuff you have to work through alone or in prayer as well as with your spouse, but ultimately, it’s up to you.
That’s my way of looking at things, anyway. But yours may differ. Discuss.
*If you’ve never heard of “Zero Population” before, that’s because the last time that term was used was before Donny Osmond had armpit hair.